Rivalry Week – An Opponent’s Perspective

Earlier, this year, I asked a friend of mine to write a guest post outlining his perspective of the State/Carolina rivalry. Some background – he is an avid ACC historian and trivia king (rivals our own noah on those fronts), a “friend of the blog,” and the only “football first” UNC fan that I have ever met. He actually attended the thrashing in Death Valley last year – I shit you not. We eagerly await the likely return of BLS in the comments. Without further ado, here are the words of ACC Guru:

I’ve been asked to give the Carolina (or should I say “UNC-CH”) perspective of the State-Carolina rivalry, and have struggled with the best way to organize my discussion. First, I decided to limit my analysis to the last 20-25 years, mainly because I wasn’t old enough to follow college football until the mid-80s. Once I decided on that timeframe, I quickly realized that, for most Carolina fans, and probably for even more State fans, this rivalry over the last 21 years has pretty much been defined by the man working the home sideline at Carter-Finley Stadium. So, here’s one Carolina fans’ take on this great rivalry during the Sheridan, O’Cain, and Amato years.

The Sheridan Years (1986-1992)

Results: NC State 6, UNC 1

Best game:1986. State wins 35-34 in Kenan by stopping a UNC 2-point try in the closing seconds. Ironically, had the Heels kicked the PAT, and assuming the rest of that season plays out the same, UNC would have tied Clemson for the ACC title.

Best memory: 1987. An easy choice – the Heels’ only win over Sheridan.

Worst memory: 1992. After back-to-back winning seasons under Mack Brown, UNC fans finally thought we had caught up to the Pack, and so this 27-20 home loss was really tough to take. (Honorable mention for the 1990 loss. That game was not televised and I was stuck listening on the radio, and was just left in stunned silence when Woody Durham described Damon Hartman’s 56-yard game winning field goal crossing over the goal post.)

My take: It was tough being a Carolina football fan during Mack’s early years, particularly with respect to this rivalry. State had really solid teams and the Heels were terrible, resulting in two awful shellackings in 1988 and 1989. Plus, Sheridan was such a good game coach that, despite Mack Brown’s upgrade of the UNC talent, the Heels could not quite break through in the early 90s, though it wouldn’t be long (see The O’Cain Years) before the Heels got back on track against the Pack.

The O’Cain Years (1993-1999)

Results: UNC 7, NC State 0

Best game: 1998. Heels win OT thriller in Charlotte, despite a great performance by one of the finest receivers in ACC history, Torry Holt.
Best memory: 1993. UNC ends the 5-year losing streak by outscoring State 25-0 in the second half for a 35-14 win in Carter-Finley.

Worst memory: 1995. OK, it was still a win, but it wasn’t that much fun seeing a 5-5 UNC team need a missed pass interference call on a 2-point play to sneak into the Carquest bowl with a 30-28 escape over a bad State team.

My take: Ah, these were the glory years for the Heels. However, I get the sense that most Heel fans got a little spoiled with the success of the mid-90s, and so the 1998 and 1999 wins were probably more special than some of the others during this stretch because they helped erase some of the sting of watching a Top-5 team quickly unwind into the abyss of the post-Mack Brown era.

The Amato Years (2000-2006)

Results: UNC 4, NC State 3

Best game: 2001. The only time during the Amato years that both UNC and State would go to a bowl. The Heels defense, led by future NFL stars Julius Peppers and David Thornton, was just a little better than Philip Rivers’ offense in a 17-9 UNC win.

Best memory: 2004. Realizing my audience, I won’t add any detail here.

Worst memory: 2002. UNC leads 17-7 early in the second half only to see the Pack roar back for a convincing 34-17 win. This game was early enough in the season that UNC fans believed that the Heels, at 2-3, could still have a good season. However, by the time this game entered the 4th quarter, it became very obvious that State was on its way to a banner year while the Heels were on their way to a horrible 3-9 campaign.

My take: The 2002 and 2003 seasons were very depressing ones for UNC football fans. It was bad enough that our Heels were 5-19 over that stretch, including a home loss to Duke in which a future NFL Pro-Bowl running back couldn’t even earn one carry from our brilliant coaching staff. What made it worse was State’s success over that same time, especially with the media’s seemingly incessant hype of the “Golden Boy” Rivers. Thankfully, Philip graduated, and since then the rivalry has taken a more pleasant turn.

Looking Ahead

For the first time since 1992, State and Carolina both have quality head football coaches. Here’s hoping that the games between TOB’s Pack and Butch’s Heels will be as entertaining as some of those early 90s contests, but hopefully with different outcome. If a Middlebury kicker boots a 56-yard field goal to beat the Heels on Saturday, I may just have to give up football all together.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

NCS Football Sports Junkies Tradition

39 Responses to Rivalry Week – An Opponent’s Perspective

  1. Pack92 11/06/2007 at 1:47 PM #

    Media’s incessant hype of Golden Boy Rivers? What, where they ALL said he was not as good as his numbers looked and he had a funny throwing motion?

  2. newt 11/06/2007 at 2:07 PM #

    0-7. Wow.

    I’ve always thought that this was a game that State really wants to win and UNC really wants to not lose.

  3. tobaccordshow 11/06/2007 at 2:07 PM #

    lol at a carolina fan complaining about another team receiving media attention…

  4. El Scrotcho 11/06/2007 at 2:27 PM #

    Nice breakdown.

  5. waxhaw 11/06/2007 at 2:47 PM #

    I was in the UNC-CH student section for the 1992 Hartman fieldgoal. It was a thing of beauty. You could have heard the wine and cheese drop in the stadium.

  6. BJD95 11/06/2007 at 3:01 PM #

    I also listened to the Hartman missile on the radio, although with our guys instead of Woody and Mick. My Dad and I screamed like crazy people.

    It was a very unlikely final drive, with (future NFL WR) Charles Davenport at QB. He had his strengths, but running the 2 minute drill was definitely not one of them. IIRC, the final score was 12-9.

    I always wanted Sheridan to really run up the score against the most putrid UNC squads. I think we had 45 at halftime one year, but completely shut our offense down in the second half. Damn that old classy bastard…

  7. PackMan97 11/06/2007 at 3:24 PM #

    Statefans has lost all street cred by letting a UNC-CH fan post!

  8. WolftownVA81 11/06/2007 at 4:19 PM #

    ^”Know your enemy” – Sun Hsue (SP), author, The Art of War.

  9. noah 11/06/2007 at 4:31 PM #


  10. WolftownVA81 11/06/2007 at 4:37 PM #

    Thanks. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it.

  11. atlas 11/06/2007 at 4:48 PM #

    The 2004 game is still tied.

  12. atlas 11/06/2007 at 5:00 PM #
  13. tvp 11/06/2007 at 5:06 PM #

    “I’ve always thought that this was a game that State really wants to win and UNC really wants to not lose.”

    during the late Amato-Bunting era, I think the opposite was true actually.

  14. tobaccordshow 11/06/2007 at 5:19 PM #

    The 2004 game is still tied.

    Screw that, we won that game and they know it.

  15. FrankManor 11/06/2007 at 5:35 PM #

    “I’ve always thought that this was a game that State really wants to win and UNC really wants to not lose.”

    I concur.

    On the one hand:

    Nothing’s more frustrating than losing to a rival that doesn’t consider you to be one.

    On the other:

    Nothing’s more frustrating than losing to someone who wants so badly for you to hate them more than you do and having to hear about it for a year…which almost makes you hate them enough to grant their wish. Almost…if they were your rival.

  16. MadWolf92 11/06/2007 at 5:40 PM #


    There are probably about eleventy billion ways to spell the name with the Roman alphabet.

  17. MadWolf92 11/06/2007 at 5:42 PM #

    The fact that *some* Carolina fans consider Duke to be their football rival because of (get this) BASKETBALL has got to be one of the more humorous things about them and their “football following”.

  18. FrankManor 11/06/2007 at 5:48 PM #

    I thought being a rival transcended just one sport, or sports in general…doesn’t it encompass far more than that? People who claim to be UNC fans only for basketball are just as wrong as those who claim to be only Duke fans for basketball or only USC fans for football, etc…that’s not how it works.

    Carolina fans would root for the Taliban or SS if they were playing Duke in a game of dominoes…the sport is secondary to the rivalry…don’t you all agree?

  19. noah 11/06/2007 at 6:15 PM #

    “There are probably about eleventy billion ways to spell the name with the Roman alphabet.”

    It’s actually a title. The guy’s given name is å­«æ­¦

  20. bTHEredterror 11/06/2007 at 6:45 PM #

    /\The only time I pull for the Taliban is when Dook and UNC play each other……just kidding.

    Pretty good analysis, for a Tarhole. Who cares who the Holes think is their main rival. For LSU, Bama is their main rival. The Tide would rank the Tigers as #3 behind the War Pigeons and the Creamsicle Navy. That didn’t make the win last week any easier for the Tide to bear or any less sweet for the LSU fans.

    It’s okay for the team you hate not to hate you back. If I only lost to UNC once out of every 4 attempts, I wouldn’t hate them either. But, if we beat them Saturday, their Bowl dreams are over. That will breed a little reciprocation of our feelings, and that is how rivalries become intense. Those games in the early nineties were great because we were BOTH playing for something. That has been rare in this series.

  21. bTHEredterror 11/06/2007 at 6:46 PM #

    I assume this å­«æ­¦ means Sun Ping?

  22. wolfman 11/06/2007 at 8:11 PM #

    I was at the 2004 game, in the UNX student section on that goal line. TA scored. I saw it. As far as I’m concerned we won that game, because a TD was put on the scoreboard. And Frank, you are right, it’s not about the sport, it is about the rivalry. That’s why I have a special place in my heart for the Tarholes, the Blew Devils, the Clempsun Tigerrz, and the Twerps. They’re all really obnoxious and I like to watch them squirm in the agony of defeat, because they’re MY biggest rivals.

  23. atlas 11/06/2007 at 8:52 PM #

    I said tied b/c the scoreboard with :14 left said 30-30, and, an Adam Kiker kick was never a given. However, it definitely was not a loss.

  24. packwolf90 11/06/2007 at 9:01 PM #

    I was at the TA game and he was in. I agree with atlas, the score is tied and we win if we make the extra point. by the time saturday rolls around it’ll be 1,127 days since they robbed us….it’s time for some long overdue pay back.

  25. Sw0rdf1sh 11/06/2007 at 10:21 PM #

    Nice read. I can’t say I would quite know how to write something like this for Carolina fans to read without upchucking or hurling obscenities.

    I miss our “golden boy” though.

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